The truth about lying

Tonight night Guido and I were tucked up in bed like a right couple of old crocks. The lights were out and the sheet was pulled up to our necks. The faint whiff of French mustard betrayed what we’d been up to only moments earlier. It’s amazing the fun two grown adults can have with some pretzels and a spatula.

“When was the last time you told a lie?” I asked Guido.

There was a long and suspicious pause.

“I’m sensing this is a trap to trip me up?” he said from the darkness. “What do you know, that I don’t?”

I was prompted to ask him as earlier in the day I’d been reading a fascinating article about something called – The Honesty Experiment. Three astute British subjects, who were hooked up to state-of-the-art electronic lie detectors, were then challenged to get through a whole week without telling a single fib. The premise was to see if we could ever create a world in which we could not lie.

“Think about that question very carefully before you reply,” I said, “because statistically we all do it at least nine times a day.”

Nine times? That didn’t sound so much to me. I fluffed up my pillow and mentally rewound the previous 24 hours. Hmmm. It didn’t take long for my trustworthy persona to descend into a Machiavellian plot.

“I can’t remember,” said Guido with an air of smugness, “I like to be totally honest.”

Well obviously he was lying.

I chewed my nail. Even before lunch I reckon I’d racked up a whole pack of lies. Astonishingly my entire daily quota was gone in less than three hours. I can be very generous you know, even when I’m lying. And at least two of them were absolute whoppers. I wondered if there were any rules about borrowing some of tomorrow’s lies if I could trade some on a particularly slack day. The scientists would’ve had an absolute field day with me. A world without lies? I was trying to rationalise their supply and demand.

“What about you, Pinocchio?” asked Guido.

I tutted, but of course Guido was quite right. My nose was bigger than the Lizard Peninsula. In fact, the more I thought about it, I realised I was some sort of pathological liar. Only in a good way.

“At least I consider myself a polite liar,” I said.

Guido rolled over, “What exactly does that mean?”

“I tell nice lies.” You know I can be as smug as the best of them. “I like to practise the kindest form of dishonesty.”

He groaned and rolled over again.

“When Donna came into the cafe this afternoon she wanted to know if I could see her black hair roots – and I said no – but what I really meant was – hell yes. When that guy who wears the suit – with the limp – got to the bus stop I told him to get on the bus first – even though I suggested I was second in line when actually I was first. And this morning – when you asked me how my porridge tasted and I said it was fine – well what I really wanted to say was – it needed more salt.”

And I apologise to readers for my high hyphen count in the preceding paragraph but that’s what happens when I lie. Apparently I add dashes.

Guido flicked the lamp on.

“That porridge was perfect,” he snapped.

You know – some people just can’t handle the truth.

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